Captain Britain (1st series) #23

Issue Date: 
March 1977
Story Title: 
<BR> The Night Big Ben stood still! (1st story)

First story: Gary Friedrich (author), Herb Trimpe & Frank Giacoia (artists) I. Watanabe (letterer), Marie Severin (colorist), Larry Lieber (editor)

Brief Description: 

First story:

The execution of Captain Britain, Captain America and Prime Minister Callahan is halted at the last moment, as Commander Hunter tells the Red Skull that Parliament has given in to his demands. This is merely a ruse, however, as Hunter is trying to buy time in order to find and disarm the bomb the Skull has hidden in Big Ben. He asks Nick Fury to take over S.T.R.I.K.E. command, while he goes in search of the bomb and has the clock of Big Ben stopped. He finally sees the bomb but the Skull overrides his command with the help of his computer system restarting the clock and the deadly countdown. The Captains, in the meantime, escape and, while Captain America battles the Skull’s troops, Captain Britain leaves to find help. However, the first person he runs into is Inspector Dai Thomas, who is once again intent on arresting him…

Full Summary: 

First story:

6.59 P.M.

Captain Britain, Captain America and British Prime Minister Callahan stand helpless before the Red Skull’s Nazi firing squad, as the final sixty seconds of their lives are ticking rapidly away. The signal the Skull banked on isn’t coming and Captain Britain finally announces that it would appear that Parliament has voted to refuse the Skull’s ultimatum. They’re not handing the reins to the government over to him, not even to save the life of their prime minister.

And rightfully so, Callahan agrees. No man is more important than freedom. Captain America commends the brave statesman, adding that he has lived by those words and is content to die by them. The furious Red Skull orders them to be silent He is not interested in their feeble attempts at martyrdom. In thirty seconds, they will be nothing more than a trivial memory.

That same instant at the underground headquarters of S.T.R.I.K.E., Commander Lance Hunter demands to be patched through to the Red Skull. Parliament has voted to surrender, he announces.

The Red Skull is ready to give the execution order when the phone rings. Hunter informs him that Parliament will meet his demands. The British government has made a wise decision, the Skull gloats, as the chimes of Big Ben start ringing, and none to soon. Relieved Hunter sinks down in his chair. The prime minister is safe. He asks the Skull about his demands and promises to carry them out immediately.

The two heroes and Prime Minister Callahan realize that the phone call must mean that Parliament has given in to the Skull. Callahan shudders at the cost of their survival – enslavement of an entire nation!

While the Skull dictates his demands to Hunter, his men untie the prisoners and intend to them them away. The two Captains quickly plan to make a grab for their weapons once they pass them and order Callahan to hug the floor when they make their play. They successfully reach for their weapons, getting ready for battle as the Nazis call in reinforcements. Captain America tells his British counterpart that they need help. He is to run for the cavalry. Besides, Captain America made a career out of slugging Nazis.

Their foes announce that they must be mad. They are pointing four rifles directly at the heroes’ hearts. Another move and they are dead. Unimpressed, Captain America throws his shield at them, while Captain Britain jumps away courtesy of his quarterstaff.

Two hours later, a frantic Hunter shakes Nick Fury awake. He apologizes for putting Fury away but he couldn’t risk him botching the operation. Gruffly Fury tells him to give him a rundown of the situation. Minutes later, Hunter has brought him up to speed and adds that they have bought themselves some time by agreeing to the Skull’s terms but even these few hours might not be time enough to locate the Skull. They have no leads on his whereabouts and, worse, he’s planted a germ bomb in Big Ben. The explosive is set to detonate when the clock strikes midnight but Hunter is going to try and defuse it before then. That’s why he’s awakened Fury. He needs him to take over S.T.R.I.K.E. command center in Hunter’s absence. Fury protests. He’s no desk jockey. He asks the other man to give him a break and let him tackle the bomb. Hunter refuses. He’s compared their records. He has far experience in demolitions, Fury does not. Gruffly Fury tells him not to get splattered all over he city he’s trying to save.

Meanwhile, as Big Ben strikes nine o’ clock, Captain Britain still hasn’t found his way out of the Skull’s headquarters. He sees a doorway that might be an exit. Unfortunately, it’s guarded. He quickly takes out the guards and opens the door to find a ladder and a trapdoor that leads outside. He’d never realized the stars could be so beautiful, he thinks, as he climbs up, praying that he’s not too late.

At the same moment, deep within the works of Big Ben, Lance Hunter s unable to locate the bomb in the mechanical maze in spite of his use of the latest detection devices. He decides to have the clock stopped. The public won’t grow suspicious, thanks to the recent trouble they’ve had with Big Ben. He alerts Fury at S.T.R.I.K.E. control, ordering Big Ben stopped. What’s the point, Fury inquires. Hunter explains that he assumes that the bomb will be detonated by the clock’s movement. Therefore, if the clock isn’t running, they’ve bought themselves some time.

Moment later, Londoners are watching a news alert on TV. A state of emergency has been declared. All citizens are to evacuate the streets immediately. No explanation has been given, though the speaker comments that this may be connected with the kidnapping of the prime minister. The citizens worry, while the Skull gloats that, with the help of his computer complex, he can control he destiny of all mankind, so most assuredly he can control the simple workings of a clock.

Hunter has finally struck paydirt. He sees the bomb wired to the back of the large hand on one of Big Ben’s clocks. He decides to climb up.

Meanwhile, on a deserted corner, Captain Britain wonders why there’s nobody around. Seeing a car, he tries to flag it down. It’s a police car and it’s braking.

Meanwhile, Cap rushes for help the Skull’ fingers move towards a final button, which will cause Big Ben’s deadly countdown to commence.

Hunter, who has attached his rope to the clock hand, finds himself in dire straits, as he will fall to his death when the hand moves downward.

Captain Britain finds trouble of his own, as Chief Inspector Dai Thomas intends to take him in for questioning.

Characters Involved: 

First story:

Brian Braddock / Captain Britain

Captain America

Colonel Nick Fury (director of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Commander Lance Hunter (director of S.T.R.I.K.E.)

Prime Minister James Callahan

Chief Inspector Dai Thomas

London citizens

The Red Skull

The Skull’s Nazi troops

Story Notes: 

This story was published by Marvel UK.
The 2nd story in this issue is a b&w reprint of the second half of Fantastic Four (1st series) #120, the 3rd story reprints the third part of the first story from Marvel Team-Up #7.

Issue Information: 
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